Ducks and Texas BBQ

March 29, 2021 • 3:15 pm

First a few shots from Chicago, and then. . . . today’s lunch in Texas!

Yesterday someone brought a beautiful English shorthaired cat on a leash to Botany Pond. The cat didn’t look like it enjoyed it at all: it was hunkered down and appeared frightened. And it certainly wasn’t walking as if it were used to a leash.

Scared cat is circled:

Then a quick trip to the harbor behind the Museum of Science and Industry where, I was told, there were mergansers. And there were: lots of them. Some were diving, though I can’t be arsed to either look up the species, see what they eat, or if the brown vs. black-and-white ducks represent a sexual dimorphism. Readers can answer these questions:

Punk duck:


And a damn Canada goose, the bane of all waterways:

Then, on to Texas! The two-hour flight was uneventful, and we were even offered drinks and snacks (I refused). I rented a car at the Austin airport, and within an hour I was in the Barbecue Capital of Texas: the small town of Lockhart (population about 13,000). It boasts three of the best BBQ joints in the state (ergo in America): Kreuz Market, Smitty’s, and Black’s. I had to choose one, and since the last time I was here Black’s was the best, I returned. The other two places weren’t nearly as crowded today.

The exterior of Black’s, in this location since 1932.

The interior is austere, as is seemly for all good BBQ joints. You’re there to eat, not admire the view. You wait in line, first getting sides, then you encounter the Meat Guy and tell him what you want: brisket, sausages, or ribs. Drinks (sweet tea is essential) are on the side.

The “feminist” restrooms. “Women are always right.”

The meat guy slicing my brisket (I had two “moist”, or fatty, slices). Briskets are smoked in the rear.

My lunch: two slices of BBQ beef brisket (the speciality of Texas), a jalapeno-cheddar sausage, raw onion, pickles, black-eyed peas with green beans, potato salad, two slices of squishy white bread, a scoop of banana pudding with vanilla wafers (fantastic), and, of course, sweet tea.

Since I hadn’t eaten all day, this filled me up nicely.

The other two places in Lockhart. Kreuz Market (pronounced “Krites” with a long “i”) and Smitty’s.

I passed these places up as I plan on having only one big meal per day.

A poseur in town! Famous banana pudding my tuches!

The lovely old Lockhart city hall. This really is a classic small Texas town, with a central square on which converge small streets lined with local businesses:

I’m now digesting in nearby Luling, where I plan to go to the place where I had the best BBQ I remember in America: the City Market. Brisket is usually best without sauce, but they have an absolutely addictive sauce that puts their brisket over the top. I hope it’s as good as I remember.

I plan to go when it opens at 10 a.m., as BBQ is best right when taken off the smoker in the morning.


27 thoughts on “Ducks and Texas BBQ

  1. Enjoy! Have never had Texas brisket but have had some splendid salt beef sandwiches in a couple of old established Jewish owned outlets in Soho, London. I think the curing process is similar.

      1. Thanks Jerry, I see that now. I think what I had and very much enjoyed were roasted corned beef sandwiches.

    1. Mergansers are mildly punk. The real McCoy is the Hoatzin, which clambers clumsily on vegetation near backwater ponds in the tropics when people show up. Its young have claws the better to claw their way to the top, and they are said to have a bad odor. Definitely the world’s Punk Bird champion. (does anyone have a photo of it to post here?).

  2. Spring must be here is the Mergansers are heading north again.
    Enjoy the food, and all else that Texas offers.

  3. There are so many BBQ places in Texas I don’t think they could be counted. Almost like how many Mexican places are there. You are far enough south to get really good Mexican as well. North Texas, not as good. Maybe you will see Senator Cruz down there although recently he has been boating on the Rio Grand looking for immigrants.

  4. It looks like an amazing meal! …except the banana pudding. But, then, I was attached by a banana pudding when I was young, and I developed a profound aversion, so I know that’s my problem, not the fault of banana pudding in general.

  5. Have a great vacation.

    “Women are always right” – amazed that the news has reached the Lone Star state…

  6. The meal looks delicious, hope you enjoyed it. Lockhart looks a lively town, the City Hall building is beautiful. I’ll have to go there one day when we can travel again.

  7. Can you get mustard for the sausage or is that a major faux pas in TX? I never eat sausage without mustard.

    1. I dont know if mustard is available but it would surely be a faux pas to eat it. on “hot guts”, as they call spicy sausages. And only rarely, as in the City Market, do you use BBQ sauce. The meat is intended to be eaten sans condiments.

  8. I live in an apartment with a 4 generation family (mother, me, daughter, and cat) . Outdoor daily expeditions for the cat include at least a morning and evening excursion. The cat is harnessed for these expeditions. He is normally at ease, prancing about. He chases butterflies, moths, birds, squirrels…always under a tight hold so kills are limited to moths and butterflies.
    Cars, motor cycles and noisy crowds will cramp his style so “scared cat” is not unusual.

  9. Question : Among other things, I’ve read there is a shortage of rental cars. Was that your experience? Less choice and more dollars?

    1. Indeed. I couldn’t get a very small car and the price was double what I had expected. This is a byproduct of the companies having sold off a lot of their cars during the pandemic because they couldn’t rent them. Fortunately, I asked if there was a smaller car when I checked in and I got a compact. I also checked in before I arrived to ensure that I would get a car, as I’d heard reports of people showing up with a reservation and not getting a car. Some people suggest you book with two companies, but I thought that was a bit weaselly.

  10. I’m so jealous of your ability to travel! It looks like a lovely place, ‘real’ America, if you like. If I ever achieve my dream of crossing the Atlantic, I’ll be sure to check out the BBQ!

  11. My wife and I were in Lockhart as a side trip to a music weekend in Luckenbach (Jerry Jeff Walker, RIP) and ate at Blacks. I remember fondly the brisket and shockingly the mountains of cake bread (white bread to Yankees).
    I also remember the reply of a local antiques dealer when I asked him “Which is the best barbecue in town?” His disdainful response was “I don’t eat burnt meat!”

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